Book Review – Unique by Phil Cooke

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Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media can help you create a brand for you, your production company, or your films. Chapters include: “Living in a Media-driven Culture”, “The Influence of a Compelling Brand”, “Telling Your Story”, and “Why Social Media Matters”.  Author Phil Cooke is a Hollywood producer with a Ph.D. in Theology. As such, even though he is writing about branding in general, his examples have special merit to independent Christian filmmakers because much of the book is focused on Christian media.

This is one of those books that you really need to read with a highlighter in your hand. It has so many little nuggets of advice that can make a big difference in your marketing. It’s also worth the price of the book just for the resources referenced in the chapters. You could spend days going off on rabbit trails researching the many books and sources that are mentioned.

Why is branding even an issue for Christian filmmakers? Why does it matter? In the introduction, Mr. Cooke answers that question by sharing statistics about the competition that filmmakers are facing. He states that in 2011, 1,000 feature movies were released in the United States. In addition, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need to do something to get your story heard. This book shares with you how to do just that. Mr. Cooke also shares the potential power that Christian filmmakers can have to impact our society. He shares a quote by Lenin, “Of all the arts, cinema is the greatest”. Lenin used film to subjugate the Russian people for decades. We can use film to share a positive story of Christianity.

Mr. Cooke stresses throughout the book the importance of understanding who you are and what it is that you have to offer. To help with developing your brand, he offers a number of checklists or questions. By answering these questions you’ll not only get a greater understanding of who you are as a filmmaker in particular but also as an individual in general.

Once you’ve determined who you are, Mr. Cooke tells you how to share your story with the rest of the world. In “Why Social Media Matters” he gives detailed definitions of the various types of social media, the history of social media, three qualities about social media that humans value, and how to make the most of social media. It even has a section on what to do when followers or reviewers aren’t very nice. I consider myself pretty savvy when it comes to social media, but I still found useful information. I especially liked the “Quick List of Social Media Dos and Don’ts”. I would say everyone of us has been guilty of at least one of the don’t at some time.

My personal favorite feature of Unique is all the quotes at the beginning of each chapter as well as interspersed throughout the book. Such delightful tidbits like, “Don’t bring a knife to a gunfight” (Anonymous) and “Entertainment – not autos, not steel, not financial services- is fast becoming the driving wheel of the new world economy.” (Michael J. Wolf, The Entertainment Economy)

Whatever stage of production you’re in, Unique can help. If you’re a filmmaker in the early stages of production, Unique is a great resource to get your marketing started in the right direction. If you already have a film that you’re promoting, it can help you re-focus your efforts to make sure you’re reaching the intended audience. And if you’re a filmmaker wanna-be, dreaming of the day that you’ll have your own film, Unique can help get you started on your journey.

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To order your copy of Unique or to read Phil Cooke’s helpful articles, visit his website at http://philcooke.com/.

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